Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mother Wit

Mother Wit. What is it? The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as n.Innate intelligence or common sense.

This is a term that my southern-born and reared mother and a lot of other mothers like her used to describe common sense ways of doing things. This is differentiated from formal institutional training that takes years to acquire. It requires that you basically use the sense your mama taught you and that God gave you to get the job done. Be it cooking, cleaning, trying to obtain a job or whatever the case may be, you just got to go for what you know and use your "Mother Wit."

People have been using it since the beginning of time. African Americans and especially those that were former slaves used their "Mother Wit" to get ahead because more often than not, that is all they had since they had no formal education or training.

I recently read an article about a former slave named John Claybrook who was born on an Alabama cotton patch who over many years slowly became one of the most affluent members of his race in the South. He owned a large tenant farm, a bank and general store in his Negro settlement of 300, a fortune estimated at $100,000 and a colored baseball team. He lived in Memphis in the height of comfort. Claybrook who never went to school credited all this worldly success, to his "mother wit."

Now, that is not to say that education does not play a valuable role in furthering our careers and knowledge in general but good old common sense or "mother wit" is also crucial.

This is a term that my own mother, Lottie often used. She offered it up as advice and a solution to dealing with and overcoming everyday problems and obstacles. It was the same advice given to her by her mother, Johnnie Pearl Lee and her grandmother, Anne Bell Johnson Green which probably came down from her mother. It has stood the test of time and been handed down through the generations.

So, when it doubt, use your "Mother Wit!"

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